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Bands I play in, part 3: TENDER BUTTONS

Gino Robair was one of the first musicians I met when I moved to San Francisco. Luckily for me he's a fantastic and inventive musician. Gino suggested we work with Tom Djll, who is one of my favorite people in the Bay Area - Tom and I both share the same off-beat sense of humor and enjoy musical experimentation. It seemed natural that the three of us evolved into Tender Buttons. The title was coined by Gino after the book by Gertrude Stein. 

Here are Tender Buttons playing one of our first "big" shows at OutSound New Music Summit 2015 - a 4 day Festival exploring the many facets of improvisation and experimental music.  On this occasion we collaborated with video artist Bill Thibault

Here are Tender Buttons playing one of our first "big" shows at OutSound New Music Summit 2015 - a 4 day Festival exploring the many facets of improvisation and experimental music. 

On this occasion we collaborated with video artist Bill Thibault

Since our first show and our album recording that shortly followed, our musical range has been intentionally limited to mostly modular synthesizers and piano or keyboards. More often than not we have managed to find a grand piano for me to play at our concerts.

Our first publicity photo - but there seems to be one button missing on the grey shirt on the left. 

Our first publicity photo - but there seems to be one button missing on the grey shirt on the left. 

The best way to describe our sound is as follows: 

Tender Button's music is fully improvised but reflects a shared interest in highly contrasting features: textures and dynamics; density and silence.  

Tender Buttons lay down a thick ear-cushioning wall-to-wall carpet of minimalist throw-back-60's modernism via intense improvisatory practice.  

 

Note: we are not describing a 60's shaggy carpet here like in Austin Powers.

no.

Think instead of Stockhausen's Kontakte version for electronic sounds, piano and percussion.

I very much like David Tudor, Christoph Caskel and Gottfried Michael Koenig's recording of Kontakte part 1 & 2 from 1960. Very nice. THIS is the Tender Button world.

Tender Buttons recorded at Fantasy studios with Bryan Day of Bad Jazz and Sabrina Segal in July 2015.

Tender Buttons recorded at Fantasy studios with Bryan Day of Bad Jazz and Sabrina Segal in July 2015.

Photo below is Tom Djll making magic on trumpet and modular synthesizer.

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Our forthcoming recordings and performances: 

Tender Buttons LP release - no one gets us, but we do, so we are releasing this ourselves

See my Calendar for forthcoming Tender Buttons shows. 

Tania Chen